SWBAT: Express themselves appropriately (grammatical structures, register, cultural knowledge) in the TL in order to get their point across, read and correctly interpret arguments offered in rebuttal, and compose responses to defend their position on the question being debated.
Standards targeted: 1.2, 1.3; 2.1, 2.2; 3.1, 3.2; 4.2
Description of activity: Students will spend time preparing for a debate on the topic: Should English be the official language in the United States? A number of steps must be taken to ensure the success of this activity.
1. You, the teacher (or your computer personnel),
will need to see that IRC software is installed in the computer lab you
are going to use. You will also need to learn how to set up private
channels so that your students can debate "in peace" and not be interrupted
by outside interlopers. Private channels are easy to create, and
the IRC software you obtain will have instructions for doing this.
You should also print out a list of basic commands for your students so
that they can easily function within the IRC environment. If none
of this is ringing any then
please go back to the
the basics and review. Then come on back here and carry on!
2. Each student should be assigned a position
on this topic (or they may choose the position they wish to defend, provided
there is an even distribution among the students). The students then
need to research the topic thoroughly, both from their perspective and
from their opponents', in order to gather sufficient information to (1)
shore up their own position and (2) undermine possible "attacks."
3. This topic is closely related to many issues that are probably discussed
in government or sociology classes in your school. Check with your
Social Studies colleagues and see if
they are dealing with this subject at any time. Then coordinate your
lessons with theirs to reinforce what the students are learning in both
subject areas and also to enable students to draw on their knowledge across
the curriculum to have success in all of these classes. Showing students
relationships between and among subject areas helps them see their education
as part of a bigger learning picture, as opposed to just compartmentalized
courses that merely begin and end in a 42 minute class period in a specific
4. Once the students have done sufficient research and have prepared their arguments, have them debate in the IRC session. You can keep a log (see IRC instructions) of the debate in order to keep track of points made, rebuttals offered, and counter-justifications made during the forensic activity. One way to evaluate this activity is to score points for these moves in the discussion, much as you would in a regular debate. You can also monitor your students' TL participation and award credit accordingly. You will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of TL produced by your students! A final benefit of having the log is the record of TL being used; you can monitor the exchanges for grammatical or idiomatic errors and address these later with the class as a whole.